Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Driveway Wars

Today we started Reno Week at the Hibners and the first phase was the driveway.  It looked pretty straightforward to begin with.
Dave and his friend (and ours) Duke, rented a Bobcat to remove the thin layer of concrete that collapsed years ago and was mostly submerged.  Here's Dave now arriving with the Bobcat. 
And here's Duke and Dave staking the grade.
 Then Dave and his Bobcat got to work.
After removing the two inch slab of concrete which we expected, he encountered a 6 to 8 inch slab of concrete which we didn't expect because it was completely hidden under the thin layer.
And now the process of digging out the much thicker layer of concrete began.
 Dave and the Bobcat worked very hard and sometimes it seemed like Dave was asking just a little too much of his trusty helper.
And sometimes the work arena got a little crowded because while we're trying to install a driveway, the city is trying to install sidewalks in the same area.
 But they've worked together well so far.  Next our driveway base arrived. We'd increased the order twice as we realized how incredibly deep we were going to have to excavate.
And although some of us were working very hard, there were others who just enjoyed the show.
 Almost everything was impacted - the flower beds, the ancient basketball post, and the evergreens that we planted years ago.  Big credit goes to Duke and Dave though because they took the time to transplant our favorite evergreen which is known for it's slow growth.
We had an agreement with the city that they'd pick up our building materials.  I'll call them tomorrow to let them know we underestimated the massive amount of concrete and hopefully they'll still pick it up.
Meanwhile back at the house, Dave and his Bobcat were still hard at it.  Not only did we encounter two layers of concrete, but there was no base material under the original driveway - just very wet, unstable clay. 
At this point, all the concrete has finally been removed.
So the next step is to compact and try to amend the clay with enough base material to stabilize it.
 And this part of the project kept us busy late into the night.

Finally we had to call it - not because our stalwart workers couldn't have gone on but because we have elderly neighbors and our equipment made lots of noise.

Tomorrow, we order more base material, beg the city to pick up the concrete we removed, and hopefully pour our new, much needed driveway.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Happy Birthday, Sarah

Thirty-five years ago our 6th baby was born.  And of the six, she's the only one who gets to always be our baby because she was the last.  
We were so fortunate this year to be able to spend her birthday with her because she lives way down in Louisville, Kentucky and we can never visit as often as we'd like to.
After we got home, I called her; not only to let her know that we'd gotten home safely but also to conduct her birthday phone interview with her.  Here's how it went.

So does it feel different to be 35?   Well....ummmmm...it feels fine.  I don't feel 35 but I don't mind being 35.  It doesn't feel like it's that old.  It just doesn't feel like it's my age.
What's so great about living in Louisville?  Everything..  Louisville's awesome.  The best thing is the climate. I love the mild winters and summers feel so long.  Plus it's full of friendly people.  I also like that there's lots to do.  It has big city benefits with a small town feel.  And it doesn't hurt that Louisville has special holidays like Derby and Thunder.  I feel really proud to live here.
 What's not so great about living in Louisville?  Summers are humid. And the Ohio River Valley tends to exacerbate allergies and sometimes even seems to cause them.

How do you manage to juggle a career, a household, and raising three wonderful children?  I don't think it's that hard so I don't think about it.  I feel like I have a pretty good life.  Also I use a dry erase calendar that I could never live without.
How do you feel about being the youngest of 6 children?  Lucky.  I love being the baby of the family.

How did you feel about it when you were a child?  I loved it even more.  They taught me everything not to do.  I was always good because I knew I didn't want any of that action.  I stayed OUT of trouble.
What do you like to do in your spare time?  Watch garbage on TV and golf.  And I really love to spend time with my family.  Just hanging out with Mike and the kids is perfect for me.
Did you do anything special for your birthday?  Well my mom and dad were here - that was special.   And it was a relaxing day where I got to be really spoiled. I'd have to say it was about as perfect as birthdays can get.  Oh and I ate lots of my favorite foods like biscuits and gravy for breakfast, extra coffee, Texas Roadhouse for dinner, Decadent Fudge Track ice cream, and birthday cake.
What do you like about being a mother.  Love.   Loving the kids, seeing the kids love each other, loving Mike...it's all tied into my role as mother and it's a great feeling.
So what can you tell us about yourself that we haven't covered yet.  Well, I'd probably say something about just being a lucky person.  I have a really good life and after being with Mike for 16 years, I'm still crazy about him.   I couldn't imagine a better life for me.  And, I couldn't have dreamt to be where I am today.  I'm so lucky.

I can tell you a few more things about Sarah, too.  She's been a happy little blessing since the day she was born.  She's the original family girl and she'd do anything for anybody.  She's driven up to Michigan City from Louisville by herself lots of times just because somebody needed help, special care, or just a shoulder to lean on.  We're so lucky that she's part of our family and we're so happy we got to share at least part of this day with her!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Happy Birthday, Dan and Dave

Forty years ago today was one of the most exciting days of our lives.  Our twins were born at 0230 and 0240.  We knew we were having twins but we didn't know they would be boys (which was great because we already had two girls), we didn't know they would be identical, and we certainly didn't know they would turn out to be so amazing.
This year I've tried to do birthday interviews for each family member on their special day, but since the boys are so far apart and so very busy at this point in their military careers, it just wasn't feasible.  Instead, I'm going to tell you a few things you may not know about them.
The summer after they graduated from high school, they went to Army Basic Camp in Fort Knox, Kentucky where they were bunk mates.  Basic Camp is comparable to basic training and based on their performance there, they decided to attend Kemper Military School and College in Booneville, Missouri - one of only three early commissioning programs in the country. 
During their freshman year at Kemper they were both among the approximately 20% of cadets indoctrinated into Scabbard and Blade - a college military honor society.
Between their freshman and sophomore years at Kemper they attended the Army Advanced camp in  Ft. Lewis, Washington.
And during their 2nd year of college each commanded one of the two companies at Kemper.
After graduating with Associates degrees from Kemper, they headed to Muncie with the intention of taking the Architectural Course at Ball State but upon finding out that they didn't have the prerequisite courses, they switched to Criminal Justice.  It only took a semester to realize that it wasn't for them so they transferred to Purdue University in Lafayette to take the Construction Management Course.

Although they didn't find the educational opportunities in Muncie that they'd hoped for, they both found something else.  They were only there a few weeks when they both met the Muncie girls that they would later marry and who they are happily wedded too today.
While they were in college at Purdue they were in the reserves and finding the military to be a good fit.  During that year they tried out for the prestigious EIB or Expert Infantryman's Badge - but they didn't get it and neither did anyone else in their Division.  They tried again the second year with the same result.  But the 3rd year they tried along with 98 others and Dan and Dave were 2 of only 3 out of that 100 that did get it.  After three years of effort, only three candidates in their Division were awarded the EIB, and they were two of them.
 After their graduation from Purdue with Bachelor of Science degrees in Construction Management, they went to Ft. Leonard Wood to take the Officer Basic Course.  They lived next to each other, with their wives, in a small community called Evening Shade located at the back gate of Ft. Leonard Wood.

Then came Ranger School.  According to Wikepedia, "The purpose of the course is learning to soldier as a combat leader while enduring the great mental and psychological stresses and physical fatigue of combat. Ranger students conduct about 20 hours of training per day, while consuming two or fewer meals daily with an average of 3.5 hours of sleep a day. Ranger students typically wear and carry some 65–90 pounds of weapons, equipment, and training ammunition while patrolling more than 200 miles throughout the course."  Wikipedia also says, "Following the completion of Ranger School, a student will usually find himself in the worst shape of his life and because of the physical and psychological effect of low calorie intake over an extended period of time, it is not uncommon for many Ranger School graduates to encounter weight problems as they return to their units and their bodies and minds slowly adjust to routine again. A drastically lowered metabolic rate, combined with a nearly insatiable appetite (the result of food deprivation and the ensuing survivalist mentality) can cause quick weight gain."  I know this to be true because a few weeks after Ranger School which they both got through on their first try, I saw them overweight for the first (and last so far) time in their lives.
 After That, Dave went to Ft. Campbell, KY and Dan went to Schofield Barracks in Hawaii.

About three years later, they were back together at Ft. Leonard Wood for their Officers Advanced Course.  At that time, caaptains were housed in duplexes and amazingly, they shared one.  Each housing unit had a placard with the officer's name next to the door.  On the duplex shared by Dan and Dave, one end said Cpt. Hibner....and so did the other.  I heard that more than one person wanted to know how this Cpt. Hibner got both sides of his duplex.

After this course, they took the Engineering Management Course at the University of Missouri to get Masters Degrees in Engineering Management.

Then they headed to Ft. Stewart, GA with the 3rd Infantry Division where they looked out their back doors, across a playground to the other's back door.  They did staff work there for about a year and then were selected as Company Commanders.  This is a very intense job for young officers but not as intense as it would become.  

In September, 2002, Dave went to Kuwait to get ready for a possible invasion of Iraq 
 and in January, 2003, Dan followed.
The war began on March 21st and the boys didn't see each other again until they were reunited at Baghdad International Airport.  
Although it was only about three weeks, this period of time seemed like a lifetime to both of them. (I would have to write a book to share their many heroic and dramatic experiences.)   Dave got home the end of May and Dan shortly after.

After this, their careers took them in different directions.  They were only neighbors once more at Ft. Leavenworth, KS from June, 2007 until June 2008.

Following are more interesting facts about our boys.

Dave has been deployed twice - Iraq and Afghanistan.

 Dave in Afghanistan, 2011
Dan has been deployed five times - Kosovo once, and Iraq four times and he'll be leaving for Afghanistan within the next couple of months.

Dan in Kosovo, 2001
Dan in Iraq, 2005
 Dan in Iraq, 2008
Both graduated from Airborne and Air Assault School.
They were promoted to Captain, Major, and Lieutenant Colonel on the same days.

Although only about 10% of all Lieutenant Colonels get battalion commands, both Dan and Dave got one and got their first choices.

Among their many medals and awards (including the EIB), both have bronze stars, purple hearts for shrapnel wounds, and Silver Stars, the third highest military decoration for valor.  This medal is awarded for gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States.

And my final bit of information about the boys that most people don't know is that they never flew in an airplane until 1992 and both jumped out of that airplane on the same day.  As a matter of fact, they drove from Kemper to Ft. Benning to go to airborne school. 
And the first five times they took off in airplanes, they never landed - at least not with the plane.

And then there are the facts we all know.  They are very, very nice boys who love their families.  They have wonderful senses of humor and there's nothing more joyful than hearing them laugh together endlessly after having been separated for a long time.   And, they're sensitive, thoughtful, and kind.  They're also loving husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons; and hard workers who have not only extensively remodeled both their homes but also do the repairs and upkeep on ours.
We're beyond proud of them and are wishing them the best birthdays ever!